Goal: Convince Walmart to sign agreement on safety protocols for factories in Bangladesh
Recently, over 1,100 workers were killed due to a factory building collapse in Bangladesh. A broad safety plan for Bangladesh factories has been created in response to that tragedy, and endorsed by over a dozen companies, but Walmart has refused to sign it. The plan would require American retailers to have “rigorous independent inspections,” and to help pay for fire safety upgrades. Many factories in Bangladesh still lack fire escapes.
Reshma Begum, a 19-year-old survivor and seamstress, heard her co-workers speak of cracks in the building on the day of the collapse. Some had even been reluctant to enter, but their managers assured them, “There is no problem. You do your work.” Sadly, there was a problem, and due to the lax safety conditions, many good people died.
Walmart uses 279 factories in Bangladesh. The company had promised to inspect them within a 6 month period, but it has refused to sign the legally binding safety agreement regarding building inspections and increased funds for safety and upgrades. Why not? Walmart insists it can and will do more than the agreement states, but the safety agreement is a minimum requirement. Nowhere does the agreement state companies cannot go above and beyond what they are legally bound to do.
Please sign the European safety agreement. Companies such as Carrefour, Benetton, and H&M already have. Be an example to the American retailers who have yet to sign the agreement and willingly make yourself accountable for lapses in safety and security that endanger the lives of workers, so that a tragedy like what happened in Savar, Bangladesh will not happen again.
Simply promising to do better is not good enough.
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Photo credit: AP Photo/Kevin Frayer